AI will create a myriad of new jobs, say Robert Atkinson & Stephen Ezell

The introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) into the value chain of manufacturing substantially changes the nature of the workforce of that sector. But new research from the MAPI Foundation shows that, rather than robots taking human jobs, new hybrid roles are emerging where humans enable machines and AI to increase human capabilities.

The authors of How AI Will Transform Manufacturing and Future Workforce, Robert Atkinson and Stephen Ezell of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), say manufacturers will see significant growth in AI in the next five years through machine vision, smart products, machine learning, and cobots, both in factories and across the supply chain. Projecting this will result in a myriad of new types of manufacturing jobs related to AI.

According to a survey conducted by U.S. manufacturers, nearly three-fourths of them have not yet introduced new types of AI-related jobs into their businesses. Moreover, in recognition of the need to attract employees with AI skills, only 20 percent have comprehensively re-evaluated job roles, titles, levels, and pay scales. Atkinson and Ezell, however, note that this is rapidly changing.

The study emphasizes that more than 40 percent of manufacturers in their workforce have already created “data scientists/data quality analysts,” and 35 percent more expect to do so in the next five years. A significant proportion of manufacturers also create “machine learning engineers or specialists” (33% today, 70% five years from now), “collaborative robotics specialists” (29% today, 27% five years from now), and “data-quality analysts” and “AI solutions programmers / software designers” (26% today, 40% five years from now).

“Production is already facing a shortage of workers, and advanced technologies are creating additional technical and workforce challenges in finding and retaining talent with the necessary digital skills,” said Stephen Gold, MAPI Foundation president. “Companies acquiring and developing new digital skills will have a distinct advantage as AI reshapes the industry, including identifying new roles for AI-focused jobs such as leading AI strategies and overseeing implementation.”

“Most manufacturing companies are only beginning to realize the potential opportunities with AI,” Ezell said. “Businesses wishing to remain at the cutting edge of innovation in manufacturing need to implement policies that support and enable the use of technology across their organizations.”